Deciding the stage 7 winner in Nuits-Saint-Georges ended up being a difficult task for the Tour de France jury, with Marcel Kittel (Quick-Step Floors) and Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) finishing virtually on the same line. Neither rider celebrated, as neither was certain.
They both awaited the verdict while being swarmed by the media. Boasson Hagen ended up being one of the closest runners-up for a stage win in Tour de France history. With all their sophisticated equipment, the race jury said they found that six millimetres had separated the duo. They didn't mention how much margin of error is in their measurement.
While awaiting the verdict, Boasson Hagen was talking with Norwegian TV. Sporza told Edvald Boasson Hagen that the finish photo didn't show a difference and that the stage might end with a dead heat. "I hope that luck will go my way. It's really close. I did not have any clue about the photo. It was really close. I didn't know," Boasson Hagen said.
A few minutes later, most of the television cameras disappeared as they raced to Kittel, who had been declared winner on the stage. Boasson Hagen, a somewhat shy but friendly 30 year-old Norwegian, didn't sound disappointed.
"I'm really happy that the team was leading out. The team did really well to keep me up in front. They took me all the way to the line. It's a pity I didn't make it all the way to the line. Of course I'm happy with it, but of course I would've liked to win. It was really close on the line."
Boasson Hagen wasn't asked about his ambitions for the green jersey. In the points classification, he's positioned in sixth place with 60 points. Kittel tops that classification with 197 points.
Winner and green jersey wearer Marcel Kittel applauded the recent performances from the Norwegian rider. On Thursday, Boasson Hagen rode an extremely long sprint, as if he was leading out Mark Cavendish. Kittel was impressed and opted to get on the wheel of Boasson Hagen on Friday. It was the right wheel.
For Boasson Hagen, these weren't even stages where he felt he stood a chance. "It does give me confidence. I'm not a sprinter for these flat stages so I'm really happy to be up there. That's really good."